7th Armored Division September 1944 Dead
Later Recovered from Vicinity of Sillegny, France

by 7th Armored Division Association Historian Wesley Johnston
Bookmark this page as http://www.7thArmdDiv.org/sillegny-recoveries.htm
Last updated: August 21, 2017 - What's New?

Click here for web page of all still-MIA 7AD men.

7th Armd Div Patch


Overview

Elements of the 7th Armored Division first attacked Sillegny, France, on the afternoon of 18 September 1944. In the early hours of 19 September 1944, they launched a series of attacks, attempting to reach and cross the Seille River just east of the village. Sillegny is a quiet little village, blessed with one of the few French churches with Italian frescoes. But for several days, it was Hell on Earth. The Germans had evacutated the civilian population, and they had built a pill box at the road junction southeast of town. The pillbox provided direct fire on the only road into town from the forest about 2 kilometers to the west. The 7AD troops dug in at the east edge of the forest. There was nothing but flat, downward sloping open ground -- completely exposed -- between the forest and the village. The Germans heavily mined the field north of the road, the field called the Field of Six Days (Le Champ des Six Jours). Many of the men who fell in that field remained there until the area was de-mined in 1946.

The 7th Armored Division continued to press the attacks to reach the Seille for several days. But the Division was needed in the Netherlands to bolster the east flank of the salient created by Operation Market Garden, so that the Division withdrew west of the Moselle and then on 25 September began the march north to the Netherlands.

The Division left behind many who had been killed but not recovered.

This web page brings together the records of all of those thus far known as recovered from the vicinity of Sillegny and those still unaccounted who died in the area at that time. The hope is that by compiling all of these records in one place, a better understanding can lead to hope for finding the remains of those still unaccounted, as well as providing the families of those men killed with some idea of what happened in their soldier's final hours.

Contents
  • Context Maps
  • Those Recovered
  • Those Never Recovered and Identified

  • Context Maps
    Click on any map to see it full size.
    While there will be maps for specific soldiers or groups, this section brings together the various maps of the overall area.

    Overall Context

    Under construction

    I do not have the grid maps for this area.

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    Return to top of page

    Those Recovered

    Contents - Date (Cemetery)

    Introduction and Cautions

    This list is very much incomplete. At this point, I am presenting the recoveries in chronological order by when they were recovered, so that those recovered together can be easily seen. At some point, I want to provide a table of all of them in at least one different order (maybe alphabetical or alphabetical within unit or chronological by date of death).

    Note that any referenced PDFs are those of Individual Deceased Personnel Files (IDPFs) of those killed. The PDF files for these men are in the image files for their battalion/squadron in the 7th Armored Division Document Repository's images files.

    Cautions

    There are very important things to keep in mind when examining these cases.

    1. Since the battle went on for several days, with the open ground never fully under control, men lay where they fell. And other men fell near them on a different date. So several recoveries of multiple remains were of men who lay near each other but who died on different days. In fact, the battle resumed in October and November, with 5th Infantry Division making the attack, so that some remains recovered were 5ID men who died a month or more after 7AD had made its attack.
    2. The records may have errors. The records closest to the event are usually the most reliable. The errors can happen in many ways, and the box below goes into detail about this problem.
    Errors in the Records

    The IDPFs contain errors in dates and locations, and the causes of death on the burial records are surmises based on the condition of remains and not definitive causes of death. This section lists the kinds of errors that exist in some of the records.

    • Date Errors
      • Errors in Date of Death
        • 7th Armored Division lost men at Sillegny 18-22 Sep 1944. 7th Armored Division left France 25 Sep 1944, bound for the Netherlands, never to return to France. Sillegny was not taken until some time between 8 and 12 Nov 1944 by elements of 5th Infantry Division. During and after the October and November combat, remains of 7th Armored Division men were recovered from Sillegny, some by 5th Infantry Division men. These 7AD men were initially assumed to have been killed during the October and November combat.
               In most cases, this initial error was corrected. But some errors became the official date of death. For example, S/Sgt Joseph F. Brennan (A/38 AIB) was killed 19 Sep at Sillegny. His remains were recovered during the 5ID combat in October, and he was buried at the temporary cemetery at Andilly 16 Oct 1944. He was presumed to have been killed 10 Oct 1944 during the 5ID combat, even though 7AD was in the Netherlands 10 Oct. No one ever realized the error. So 10 Oct 1944 became his official date of death. And in March 1945, 7AD Headquarters received the burial report showing the date of death as 10 Oct 1944 and A/38 actually issued an amended Morning Report, changing their own earlier MR showing him MIA as of 19 Sep 1944 was superceded by the erroneous report.
               An even larger error is the official date 30 Nov 1944 for S/Sgt Florian E. Stevens (C/40 Tank) who actually died 14 Sep 1944 (not at Sillegny).
        • Other cases were legitimate attempts to establish the correct date of death. But the attempt concluded with the wrong date, usually one or two days off from the actual date.
      • Errors in Date of Events
        • As noted above, after-the-fact conclusions, such as in the case of Joseph Brennan led to propagation of the error via retroactive changes of records to reflect the erroneous date -- the Morning Reports in his case.
        • The further away from the event the more likely it is that an erroneous date propagated and polluted the accuracy of subsequent accounts. And once the errors occur, they are propagated over and over.
               For example, Charles Shenk (Supply Sgt/HQ Co/38 AIB) was one of those captured 19 Sep 1944 at Sillegny. The HQ Co/38 22 Sep 1944 Morning Report correctly shows him MIA as of 19 Sep 1944. Yet somehow someone began showing him as having been reported MIA as of 21 Sep. This error was propagated through all subsequent records. For example, the 1951 "Non-Recoverable Case Record of Review and Approval" (PDF p 49) states "Missing in action 21 September 1944 ...". This error even polluted the accounts of two survivors, requested in 1950 -- 5 1/2 years after the event. A basic principle of integrity of investigations is that the investigator does not provide any information to persons being questioned. This clearly happened in this case, since both survivors took the erroneous date given to them by the investigator and built the structure of the sequence of dates in their accounts on this presumed fact -- which was not a fact but an error.
    • Location Errors
      • One source of error in the place of death is that the remains recovered immediately after death were picked up by Graves Registration from collecting points. These were usually well behind the front lines and were -- as the name collecting points suggest -- a place to which remains were brought from where they had died, so that the remains could be easily transported to the nearest temporary cemetery by a Graves Registration vehicle that traveled from the cemetery to the collecting point and back to the cemetery. Thus sometimes the Graves Registration personnel recorded the collecting point as the place of death.
      • In later investigations, the location was sometimes presumed to be the same as the location of the company shown in the Morning Report. However, this was usually the location of the unit headquarters and not where the combat took place and the men were killed. This is very much the situation with Sillegny, where the Morning Reports show the location as 1 mile west of Sillegny. That is the location of the woods from which the attack was launched. But the men who died making the attack were near Sillegny -- a mile to the east of the Morning Report location.
    • Cause of Death Errors
      • The remains of those who were not immediately recovered often suffered post-mortem damage from the artillery and mortar explosions as the battle continued. Thus the condition of the remains at burial (which were used by Graves Registration to conjecture a cause of death) and at disinterment in preparation for final burial may include damage to the body that was not the cause of death. In the case of those who died in the mine fields that were not removed until 1946, the post-mortem damage could have been extensive.


    1944 September 19 Evacuations of Wounded who later died

    Note that Henry Byrd also appears in the 21 Sep 1944 Andilly burials below.

    • Byrd, Henry O. - (C/33) - Rank: Cpl. - Last Day on Duty: 1944-Sep-19 - Last Duty Location: attacking Sillegny, France, machine gun nests at main road junction
      59-page IDPF (click on name to view)
      C/33 Morning Report 19 Sep 1944 shows him seriously wounded in action and transferred to 104th Evacuation Hospital
      Report of Burial (PDF pp 29-30) shows that his remains were buried by an unspecified Quartermaster Graves Registration Company (1st Lt William C. Nugent) at the Andilly, France, temporary U. S. military cemetery on 21 September 1944 in Plot F, Row 6, Grave 142, between two non-7AD men of unspecified units.

    • Eckard, Ernest - (A/17) - Rank: Pvt. - Last Day on Duty: 1944-Sep-19 - Last Duty Location: attacking Sillegny, France
      56-page IDPF (click on name to view)
      A/17 Morning Report 19 Sep 1944 shows him seriously wounded in action and transferred to 59th Field Hospital
      Report of Burial (PDF pp 26-27) shows that his remains were buried by an unspecified Quartermaster Graves Registration Company (Newman) at the Cambridge American military cemetery on 3 October 1944 in Plot O, Row 8, Grave 12, with Edward Czerebak (D/87 died 26 Sep of wounds suffered 6 Sep) in grave 13 and a non-7AD soldier in grave 11. - Cause of death: "WIA. Pen W abdominal wall, severe."

    • Faircloth, Stephen Preston - (C/38) - Rank: Pvt. - Last Day on Duty: 1944-Sep-19 - Last Duty Location: attacking Sillegny, France
      41-page IDPF (click on name to view)
      A/17 Morning Report 23 Sep 1944 shows him Missing in Action as of 19 Sep 1944 and no further entries - IDPF states he was "subsequently reported killed in action on 20 Sept 44" but gives no source nor date for this determination
      Report of Burial (PDF pp 30-31) shows that his remains were buried by an unspecified Quartermaster Graves Registration Company (1st Lt William C. Nugent) at the Andilly, France, temporary U. S. military cemetery on 21 September 1944 in Plot F, Row 6, Grave 145, between two Roy F. Davis (A/38 KIA 21 Sep) in grave 144 and Charles Irizary (B/38 KIA 21 Sep) in grave 146. - Surmiesed cause: "KIA".
      Condition of remains at disinterment 29 Jun 1948 in preparation for final burial: "Disarticulated. Small amount of decomposed tissue. Missing right clavicle. Fractured right tibia."
      Wesley Johnston evaluation: He may have been killed or mortally wounded 19 Sep and evacuated without C/38 knowing what happened to him (hence the retroactive MIA report 23 Sep by which time he had already been buried at Andilly for 2 days). The later revision of his date of death to 20 Sep may be that the aid station or hospital to which he was evacuated received him dead and first realized this 20 Sep or else received him alive but that he died 20 Sep. It appears from the condition of his remains at disinterment that he was probably killed or mortally wounded by an explosion, either of a mortar or artillery round.


    1944 September 21 Burials (Andilly)

    Except for Henry Byrd, the specific date of recovery is not in the records, and the exact location of recovery is not in the records. Note that Henry Byrd also appears in the 19 Sep 1944 evacuations above.

    • Borkowski, Benjamin P., Jr - (C/33) - Rank: Tec 5 - Last Day on Duty: 1944-Sep-19 - Last Duty Location: attacking Sillegny, France, machine gun nests at main road junction
      67-page IDPF (click on name to view)
      Report of Burial (PDF pp 23-24) shows that his remains were buried by an unspecified Quartermaster Graves Registration Company (1st Lt William C. Nugent) at the Andilly, France, temporary U. S. military cemetery on 21 September 1944 in Plot F, Row 6, Grave 148, next to Daniel Castellano (A/38 KIA 21 Sep 1944) in grave 147 and a man of unknown unit in grave 149.

    • Byrd, Henry O. - (C/33) - Rank: Cpl. - Last Day on Duty: 1944-Sep-19 - Last Duty Location: attacking Sillegny, France, machine gun nests at main road junction
      59-page IDPF (click on name to view)
      C/33 Morning Report 19 Sep 1944 shows him seriously wounded in action and transferred to 104th Evacuation Hospital
      Report of Burial (PDF pp 29-30) shows that his remains were buried by an unspecified Quartermaster Graves Registration Company (1st Lt William C. Nugent) at the Andilly, France, temporary U. S. military cemetery on 21 September 1944 in Plot F, Row 6, Grave 142, between two non-7AD men of unspecified units.

    • King, Thomas S., Jr - (C/33) - Rank: 1st Lt. - Last Day on Duty: 1944-Sep-19 - Last Duty Location: attacking Sillegny, France, machine gun nests at main road junction
      40-page IDPF (click on name to view)
      Report of Burial (PDF pp 15-16) shows that his remains were buried by an unspecified Quartermaster Graves Registration Company (1st Lt William C. Nugent) at the Andilly, France, temporary U. S. military cemetery on 21 September 1944 in Plot F, Row 6, Grave 150, at the end of the row with a man of unknown unit in grave 149.


    1944 November 13 Recoveries (Limey)

    3 Men Known Recovered Together

    Although they all died on different days, all three men were recovered from the same location: near the edge of highway GC-49 from Sillegny to Lorry, France, just west of the main road junction at Sillegny (844440 Metz Sheet 1/50000). Since Bufkin was recovered as an Unknown, his Individual Personnel File (PDF p 14) has the map of their location.

    13 Nov 1944 Unknown
    Click on image for full size.
    • Bufkin, Charles H. - (C/33) - Rank: Pvt. - Last Day on Duty: 1944-Sep-19 - Last Duty Location: attacking Sillegny, France, machine gun nests at main road junction
      26-page IDPF (click on name to view)
      Report of Burial (PDF 24-25) shows that his remains were buried as Unknown X-1 by the 609th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company at the Limey, France, temporary U. S. military cemetery on 14 November 1944 in Plot H, Row 7, Grave 151, at the start of the row with a 104th Infantry Division man in grave 152.

      At the 2005 7th Armored Division Association Reunion, William Mitchell (veteran of 2nd Platoon of C/33) told Association Historian Wesley Johnston (7 Sep 2005) that Bufkin was hit in the back by a mortar or artillery shell.

    • Seidman, Alfred - (Med/38) - Rank: Pvt. - Last Day on Duty: 1944-Sep-21 - Last Duty Location: near the edge of highway GC-49 from Sillegny to Lorry, France, just west of the main road junction at Sillegny (844440 Metz Sheet 1/50000)
    • Taormina, Antonino - (C/77) - Rank: Pvt. - Last Day on Duty: 1944-Sep-20 - Last Duty Location: near the edge of highway GC-49 from Sillegny to Lorry, France, just west of the main road junction at Sillegny (844440 Metz Sheet 1/50000)

    Others Probably Recovered Same Day

    The following were probably recovered the same day, probably also by 5th Infantry Division.

    • George, Capt. Jacob A., Jr. - (C/17) - Rank: Pvt. - Last Day on Duty: 1944-Sep-19 - Last Duty Location: attacking Sillegny, France, machine gun nests at main road junction
      73-page IDPF (click on name to view)
      Report of Burial (14 Nov 1944-PDF 35) shows that his remains were buried by the 609th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company at the Limey, France, temporary U. S. military cemetery on 14 November 1944 in Plot E, Row 8, Grave 192, next to Alfred Seidman (see above) in 193 and a 5th Infantry Division man in grave 181. - Surmised Cause: "S. head wound KIA"

      17th Tank Battalion After Action Report for Sep 1944, p11: "At 0800 19 Sept 44, Capt GEORGE, the company commander of Co "C" of the 17th was killed by enemy small arms fire. He was standing up in his tank turret throwing a hand grenade at some dug-in enemy infantrymen to his front at the time he was killed.


    1944 November 19 Burials (Limey)

    The specific date of recovery is not in the records. The exact location of recovery is not in the records.

    • Barber, Howard E. - (C/33) - Rank: Pvt. - Last Day on Duty: 1944-Sep-19 - Last Duty Location: attacking Sillegny, France, machine gun nests at main road junction
      103-page IDPF (click on name to view)
      Report of Burial (PDF pp 58-59) shows that his remains were buried by the 609th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company at the Limey, France, temporary U. S. military cemetery on 19 November 1944 in Plot L, Row 11, Grave 252, with a 5th Infantry Division man in grave 251 and Pvt. Marvin McQueen (Med/38 KIA 22 Sep 1944 at Lorry) in grave 253.

      Howard H. Gregory of C/33 letter to his sister states he (Gregory) was wounded by the same grenade that killed Barber, during the same firefight that killed Stoesser


    1944 November 21 Burials (Limey)

    The specific date of recovery is not in the records. The exact location of recovery is not in the records.

    • Cravens, Stanley G. - (C/33) - Rank: Pfc. - Last Day on Duty: 1944-Sep-19 - Last Duty Location: attacking Sillegny, France, machine gun nests at main road junction
      61-page IDPF (click on name to view)
      Report of Burial (PDF pp 28-29) shows that his remains were buried by the 609th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company at the Limey, France, temporary U. S. military cemetery on 21 November 1944 in Plot I, Row 2, Grave 32, with a man from an unknown unit in grave 31 and a 5th Infantry Division man in grave 32.


    1944 November 26 Recoveries (Limey)

    When 7th Armored Division attacked Sillegny, the 5th Infantry Division attacked the area to their left, north of Sillegny. Both were attached to XX Corps, and 5ID remained with XX Corps after 7AD moved to the Netherlands (25 Sep). After 5ID finally secured the area -- two months after 7AD's attacks -- men of 5ID's 11th Infantry Regiment found the remains at Sillegny of three men, one of whom was Unknown but was definitely identified as a 7th Armored Division man by 5ID..

    • Costanzo, Vincent J. (C/38) - Rank: Pfc. - Last Day on Duty: 1944-Sep-19 - Last Duty Location: attacking Sillegny, France, probably through the minefield in the Field of Six Days
    • Schwartz, Willis R. (A/38) - Rank: Pfc. - Last Day on Duty: 1944-Sep-22 - Last Duty Location: vicinity of Sillegny, France
    • Gouak, Walter R. recovered as Unknown - (C/33) - Rank: Cpl. - Last Day on Duty: 1944-Sep-19 - Last Duty Location: attacking Sillegny, France, machine gun nests at main road junction
    26 Nov 1944 Unknown
    Click on image for full size.

    The page shown above is the last page of an "Unresolved Case" folder for France. The PDF file of the folder (click here to see the entire 37-page PDF file of the folder) was sent to me 29 September 2016 by 3rd Armored Division historian and family member Jed Henry. It is a collection of miscellaneous cases, with the above page being the only page relevant to this case. A transcribed copy of this page, including the map where the remains were found, was included in the Individual Deceased Personnel File (PDF p 22) of Walter Gouak but not in the IDPFs of Costanzo or Schwartz.

    The sheet, dated 26 November 1944, was completed by Pvt. Carl Nameth (15 014 974) of Service Company, 11th Infantry Regiment, 5th Infantry Division. The Regiment found the remains of Costanzo, Schwartz and the Unknown. A very rough map places the remains (if the "X" on the map is the location of the remains) of the three men a short distance west of the road just west of the village. The map coordinates are given as 447-848 on France 1:25,000 sheet 13. I do not have this grid map, so that I cannot place the location precisely.

    • Vincent Costanzo's Individual Deceased Personnel File (click here to see the 48-page PDF file of the IDPF) shows (PDF pp 21-24) that his remains were buried by the 609th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company at the Limey, France, temporary U. S. military cemetery on 28 November 1944 in Plot L, Row 4, Grave 79, with a 95th Infantry Division man in grave 78 and a 5th Infantry Division man in grave 80. There is no record in the file of Schwartz or the Unknown.

    • Walter Gouak's Individual Deceased Personnel File (click here to see the 45-page PDF file of the IDPF) shows (PDF p 22) a transcribed copy of the above document and (PDF pp 31-32) that, although he had no dog tags, he was identified by markings on 4 pieces of clothing and his remains were buried by the 609th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company at the Limey, France, temporary U. S. military cemetery on 28 November 1944 in Plot O, Row 2, Grave 26, at the beginning of the row. with a 5th Infantry Division soldier in grave 27. Both Costanzo and Schwartz are referenced on the copy of the recovery certification document (PDF p 22).

      At the 2005 7th Armored Division Association Reunion, C/33 veteran William Mitchell (7 Sep 2005) told Association Historian Wesley Johnston about the death of Walter Gouak. These are Wesley Johnston's notes from that conversation: "killed by machine gun fire first thing in the morning - not quite daylight - Gouak was on Mitchells's left - did not see him but heard him holler in pain; one bullet in neck and several in chest -- mg tore him apart"

    • Willis Schwartz's Individual Deceased Personnel File (click here to see the 31-page PDF file of the IDPF) shows (PDF pp 13-14) that his remains were buried by the 609th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company at the Limey, France, temporary U. S. military cemetery on 28 November 1944 in Plot L, Row 2, Grave 49, with an identified 7th Armored Division man ("Konkel 36150974") in grave 48 and a 26th Infantry Division man in grave 50. There is no record in the file of Costanzo or the Unknown.

    Implications for DPAA and for other Limey-Related Searches

    The 5th Infantry Division found the remains of the three men, identifying two from their dog tags but unable to identify the third, since he had no dog tags. The remains of all three were taken to the U. S. temporary military cemetery at Limey. There was no X-number assigned to the Unknown's remains, since the Graves Registration personnel at the cemetery easily identified the Unknown as Walter Gouak from markings of 4 pieces of his clothing.

    However, in the year between discovering the unresolved case document (see image above) and later finding the copy of the document in Walter Gouak's IDPF, Wesley Johnston pursued the possibility that the Unknown had been assigned a Limey X-number. This led to the discovery that the digitized X-files labeled as Limey (France) are confused with those of Limay (Philippines) and of Liège (Belgium) and some of the Limey X-files are missing from the digitized files.

    There are apparently only 12 Limey Unknowns who have never been identified: X-15, 22, 47, 54, 55. 60, 66, 75, 79, 80, 81, 83, 85. I do have the IDPFs for these (click here). Wesley Johnston thoroughly examined all of these. Some were recovered from the battlefields around Metz and are worth noting in the present context.

    • X-15 was recovered from a canal at Metz (PDF p 8). He was delivered to the cemetery 30 Nov 1944. The scan of the IDPF is incomplete, since it failed to include the verso of the Report of Burial.
    • X-22 was recovered between Jouy-aux-Arches and Corny (PDF p 3) on 18 Dec 1944. (most probably 5ID in the Dornot Bridgehead - shoe size 9EE)
    • X-47 was recovered from the Moselle River at Metz (PDF p 7). He was initially buried 23 April 1945.
    • All subsequent X numbers after 47 were assigned well after 26 November 1944.

    There is a PDF file labeled "X REF POS IDENT (LIMEY, FRANCE).pdf" (click here), but it is mis-labeled, since it contains 121 pages of Liege, Belgium, Mausoleum identifications.

    There is also a file labeled "Limey_FR_X-Reference_X-1_thru.pdf" that contains both Limey, France, and Limay, Philippines, cross reference sheets. Limey X-3, 4, 9, 12 and 13 have been identified, but none of them are 7AD men.

    The following X-files are missing for Limey: X-1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11 and 14 (9 men). At this time, DPAA does not know where these X-files are.

    The Limey X-files show that those cases for which there are X-files (X-15 and above) were moved to the cemetery at St. Avold, France. So it seems highly likely that some of the nine missing cases were also moved to St. Avold and that any of them who are still Unknown are buried now as Unknowns at St. Avold. So the cemetery records of St. Avold or the burial rosters at Limey offer some hope of tracking down the current situation with these nine cases.

    The missing X-files came from remains recovered between 13 November 1944 (the recovery date of X-1, later identified as Charles Bufkin (C/33) - see 13 November 1944 recoveries above) and 30 November 1944 (when X-15 arrived at the cemetery).


    1946 February 14 Burials (Limey)

    The specific date of recovery is not in the records. The exact location of recovery is not in the records.

    • Civita, Canio Joseph - (C/33) - Rank: Tec 4 - Last Day on Duty: 1944-Sep-19 - Last Duty Location: attacking Sillegny, France, machine gun nests at main road junction
      62-page IDPF (click on name to view)
      Report of Burial (PDF pp 34-35) shows that his remains were buried by the 609th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company at the Hamm, Luxembourg, temporary U. S. military cemetery on 14 February 1945 in Plot E, Row 1, Grave 15, with Cpl. Justice Dulaney (C/33 KIA Sep 1944 at Sillegny) in grave 14 and a 5th Infantry Division soldier in grave 16.
    • Dulaney, Justice Call - (C/33) - Rank: Cpl. - Last Day on Duty: 1944-Sep-19 - Last Duty Location: attacking Sillegny, France, machine gun nests at main road junction
      39-page IDPF (click on name to view)
      Report of Burial (PDF pp 20-21) shows that his remains were buried by the 609th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company at the Hamm, Luxembourg, temporary U. S. military cemetery on 14 February 1945 in Plot E, Row 1, Grave 14, with Tec 4 Canio Civita (C/33 KIA Sep 1944 at Sillegny) in grave 15 and a 179th Engineer Battalion soldier in grave 13.


    Civilian Return and Demining

    The Germans took this area in their 1940 attack across France. Prior to World War I, the province of Lorraine had been part of Germany. So when the Germans took it back in 1940, they considered it again part of Germany. They removed all civilians from the town of Sillegny (which is Sillingen in German). Thus there were no civilians in the town during the combat in 1944.

    The Germans heavily mined the area just west of the main north-south road (then called N 41) and north of the east-west road (then called GC 49). This was the area in which C/38 AIB attacked on the morning of 19 Sep 1944. The men killed in this area lay unburied until the area was cleared of land mines after the war. De-mining apparently began 22 May 1945 but continued as late as Mar 1946. Only after the de-mining could the men lost in the mine fields be safely recovered, some as late at April 1946.

    The following images are from the IDPF of William Hennessey (C/38 KIA 19 Sep). They are sworn statements of the Sillegny mayor and chief deminers made in April 1946.

    Mayor Perrin
    Mayor Perrin
    Deminer Chief Muller
    Deminer Chief Muller
    Deminer Chief Benaouda
    Deminer Chief Benaouda
    Click on image for full size.

    There is an additional 4 May 1950 "Narrative of Investigation" in the IDPF of Charles W. Shenk (PDF p 41) which states (section III. FINDINGS) that then Sillegny Mayor Mathis "produced Area Search Certificates and Notices of Disinterment, which indicated that eleven (11) American, forty-one (41) German, and five (5) unknown remains were taken from SILLEGNY in April and May 1946."

    Chronology
    The documents provide the following chronology. (See the 3 Apr 1946 recovery section below for identity of bodies by number.)

    • 1940 - Germans drive out civilians from Sillegny (source: Perrin)
    • 1945 Mar 8 - Mayor Charles Perrin returns to Sillegny (source: Perrin)
    • 1945 soon after Mar 8 - Mrs. Conrad Jean ant Vian Louis tells Mayor Charles Perrin of American bodies in unmined area; Mayor informs Military Police who remove bodies a few days later (source: Perrin)
    • 1945 May 22 - Mine sweeping begins; find more American bodies which are also taken away by Military Police (source: Perrin)
    • 1945 Jun 19 - Chief Deminer Jean Benauoda reports 3 American bodies to Military Police in Metz who remove the bodies (source: Benaouda)
    • 1945 2 weeks after Jun 19 - Chief Deminer Jean Benauoda finds and reports 5 more American bodies to Military Police, who never come and fetch the bodies; one of the bodies is a Lieutenant (source: Benaouda) [7th Armored Division Association Historian Wesley Johnston note: The Lieutenant was 1st Lt. Robert E. Carpenter, CO of 1/C/38.]
    • 1945 about Jul 22 - Chief Deminer Jean Benauoda takes dead American Lieutenant's wallet and dog tag to Military Police in Metz (source: Benaouda)
    • 1945 Aug 10 - Chief Deminer Jean Benauoda leaves and notes that the 5 American bodies he reported in early July are still not recovered (source: Benaouda)
    • 1945 Dec - Chief Deminer Jules Muller arrives in Sillegy; finds 6 American bodies at the place called Rupt de Grand Chal; numbers the bodies, finding no dog tags on bodies 4-6 (source: Muller)
    • 1946 Mar - Chief Deminer Jules Muller puts bodies 2 and 4 in a casket; notes that body 3 is a medic with red cross on helmet; turns over to mayor the dogtags for numbers 1-3 and two identity papers (source: Muller)
    • 1946 Apr 2 - Chief Deminer Jean Benauoda gives sworn statement and notes that 3 of the 5 American bodies he reported in early July 1945 have been removed, but he does not know by whom (nor presumably when) they were removed (source: Benaouda)
    • 1946 Apr & May - Eleven American remains, 41 German remains, 5 unknown remains removed from Sillegny. (source: Mathis 1950)

    It is not clear if the 5 bodies reported by Chief Deminer Jean Benaouda in early July 1945 and still not recovered by 10 Aug 1945 are some of the 6 bodies found Dec 1945 by Chief Deminer Jules Muller at the place called Rupt de Grand Chal and assigned numbers 1-6 and recovered 3 Apr 1946. The Lieutenant reported in early July 1945 by Jean Benouda probably was the same as body #4, found and numbered by Jules Muller in December 1945.


    1946 April 3 Post De-mining Recoveries (St Avold)

    On 3 April 1946, Graves Registration teams of the 3049th Graves Quartermaster Registration Company, operating from the temporary U. S. military cemetery at St. Avold, recovered the remains of 9 men, documenting their locations well. The following images are the initial list of the 9 men, as they were known at the time of recovery, and the corresponding map with the locations where each numbered man was recovered.

    3 Apr 1946 Recovery List 3 Apr 1946 Recovery Map
    Click on image for full size.

    Here are the 9 men, listed in the same order as on the original list. Keep in mind that all were recovered from an area so heavily mined that their remains lay above ground until de-mining operations were completed a year and a half after they died.

    1. Kay, Louis E. - (C/38) - Rank: Pfc. - Last Day on Duty: 1944-Sep-19 - Last Duty Location: attacking Sillegny, France
      31-page IDPF (click on name to view)
      Report of Investigation Area Search (8 Apr 1946-PDF 30) gives cause: "MWhat is the cause of death? Believed to be mines. Give basis: Condition of remains"
      Report of Interment (PDF 5) shows that his remains were buried 9 Apr 1946 at the St. Avold, France, temporary U. S. military cemetery in Plot OO, Row 9 Grave 106, between non-7AD soldier in 105 and 1/C/38 William F. Hennessey in 107 - surmised cause: "Multiple wounds"
      Condition of Remains at 6 Jul 1948 disinterment: "Body consists of fragments of R Humerus, Ulna, L/Femur, L/ &R/Fibula & Tibia. Disarticulated. Final stage of decomposition."
      7th Armored Division Association Historian Wesley Johnston evaluation: It seems likely that Kay was the wounded man being helped by Hennessey (see Hennessey immediately below), witnessed by C/38 survivor Hugh F. Hays and reported to me in 2004 by his daughter Sherry Hays. Kay was probably wounded by a land mine in this heavily mined area and then his remains further damaged by subsequent explosions of artillery and mortar rounds, including the one that killed Hennessey.

    2. Hennessey, William F. - (1/C/38) - Rank: Pfc. - Last Day on Duty: 1944-Sep-19 - Last Duty Location: attacking Sillegny, France
      39-page IDPF (click on name to view)
      C/38 Veteran Hugh F. Hays to 7th Armored Division Association Historian Wesley Johnston 28 Mar 2004 via e-mail from daughter Sherry Hays: "... Hennessey [was] helping someone who was wounded. ... The enemy dropped one artillery shell behind [him], killing [him]. I saw it happen."
      Report of Interment (PDF 30) shows that his remains were buried 9 Apr 1946 at the St. Avold, France, temporary U. S. military cemetery in Plot OO, Row 9 Grave 107, between C/38 Louis E. Kay in 106 and Med/38 Elias A. Santillanes in 108 - surmised cause: "Multiple wounds"
      Condition of Remains at 6 Jul 1948 disinterment: "Missing: R/&L/Ulna, R/Tibia, Fibula, Radius. Fractured L/Tibia. Disarticulated."

    3. Santillanes, Elias A. - (Med/38) - Rank: Pvt.

    4. Unknown Lt. - Carpenter, Robert E. - Rank: 1st Lt. - Last Day on Duty: 1944-Sep-19 - Last Duty Location: attacking Sillegny, France
      Identified at recovery by second dog tag still on body (1st dog tag and wallet were taken by Chief Deminer Jean Benaouda and given to Military Police in Metz about 22 Jul 1945

    5. Unknown - one of these four: Flores, Fidel (A/38 KIA 19 Sep), Hanson, Frederick W. (B/38 KIA 21 Sep), Keller, Keith K. (C/38 KIA 19 Sep), Klosin, Harry (C/38 KIA 19 Sep)

    6. Unknown - one of these four: Flores, Fidel (A/38 KIA 19 Sep), Hanson, Frederick W. (B/38 KIA 21 Sep), Keller, Keith K. (C/38 KIA 19 Sep), Klosin, Harry (C/38 KIA 19 Sep)

    7. Unknown - one of these four: Flores, Fidel (A/38 KIA 19 Sep), Hanson, Frederick W. (B/38 KIA 21 Sep), Keller, Keith K. (C/38 KIA 19 Sep), Klosin, Harry (C/38 KIA 19 Sep)

    8. Unknown - one of these four: Flores, Fidel (A/38 KIA 19 Sep), Hanson, Frederick W. (B/38 KIA 21 Sep), Keller, Keith K. (C/38 KIA 19 Sep), Klosin, Harry (C/38 KIA 19 Sep)

    9. Harrison, William E. - KIA 13 Oct 1944 - (10IR/5ID) - Rank: Pvt. - ASN: 34 931 992 - Casualty of the final capture of Sillegny in October 1944, by which time 7AD was in the Netherlands

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    Men Never Recovered and Identified

    It is important to document as much as possible about those who have never been recovered and identified. It is entirely possible that some of these may have been recovered as Unknowns and now lie in a grave in one of the U. S. military cemeteries in Europe, awaiting identification. Others -- especially those in tanks destroyed by fire -- probably were destroyed beyond all ability to recover them.

    It is important to note that although the combat of September 1944 was entirely men of 7th Armored Division, 7AD was moved to the Netherlands 25 Sep 1944, and it was men of the 5th Infantry Division who ultimately liberated the town for good in October 1944. So there very well may be some 5ID men lost at Sillegny who have never been recovered and identified. But this list only includes those of 7th Armored Division.

    Click here for web page of all still-MIA 7AD men.

    Lost 19 September 1944
    • Shenk, Charles W. - (Supply Sergeant/HQ Co/38) - Rank: S/Sgt. - Last Day on Duty: 1944-Sep-19 - Last Duty Location: in Sillegny, France
      54-page IDPF (click on name to view)
      See his IDPF for survivor accounts. He was seriously wounded with the group captured in Sillegny, and the other prisoners carried him on a door about 9 miles east to a German field hospital, where he was treated but passed away. He is presumably buried at the site where the field hospital was then located.
    • Wells, Thomas Henry - (S-3, Acting CO/Bn HQ/38) - Rank: Maj. - Last Day on Duty: 1944-Sep-19 - Last Duty Location: attacking Sillegny, France
      45-page IDPF (click on name to view)
      See the web page about him.


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